David’s article as prepared for the Duluth News Tribune for the column which ran on 2/17/2016:
If you like this, try this.
Last weekend Sara was having a clothing exchange. This is when a group of friends get together to swap clothes that they are tired of or that no longer meet their expectations. She made banana bread and asked me to choose some wine that they might enjoy. I knew our friend Amy was coming over and that she’d probably like a sauvignon blanc. The bottle I chose was one from Washington state that I knew was ever so slightly sweet and fruity.
My hunch was that maybe the sweetish wine, which smelled like topical fruit, would pair well with the banana bread. Sara had added pineapple and coconut to the mixture, so maybe it would work. That afternoon, after most of the ladies had gone home with their new to them clothes, Sara, Amy, and I sat around chatting. After a sip of wine and a bite of bread, Amy smiled and she said to me, “How do you do that? Choose just the right wine every time?”
Sometimes I don’t. It really is just an educated guess. To help you make some good guesses here are three “if you like this, try this” recommendations.
If you like lemons or butterscotch try this:
Chardonnay is the most popular white wine grape in the world. It is also the most chameleon-like grape. It expresses itself differently depending on how it’s aged and where it’s grown.
To taste two different styles, try both oaked and unoaked chardonnay. Chablis or Petite Chablis (these are French wine regions, available locally should cost around $25) are lemony, racy and made without the influence of oak. The opposite style is an oaked wine. This style is buttery with aromas of coconut and pineapple and make for a great cocktail. Most California chardonnays taste like this. A sure fire example is Toasted Head (also available locally and should cost around $10).
If you like blackberries, pepper, or bacon try this:
If you are looking for a blended red wine that is rich in black fruit aromas and smooth on the pallet and that pairs well with barbecue, roasted meat, or any day after work then try a GSM. This stands for the grape varieties: grenache, syrah, mourvèdre. You can find these wines from France labeled as Côtes du Rhône. I always enjoy anything produced from the Michael Chapoutier vineyards and his wines cost between $10-$18. Spanish GSMs are also stunning deals but my favorite is Can Blau which uses the mazuelo grape rather than mourvèdre. Available locally for around $15. When it goes on sale I buy it by the case.
If you like the smell of a cedar chest, pencil shavings, or the aroma of wet pine forest try this:
After the movie Sideways came out the perception of merlot took a cultural body blow. The movie made out that only idiots would drink merlot while those in the know drink pinot noir. This is totally undeserved and if you’d try a glass of Expedition merlot from Canoe Ridge Vineyards produced in Washington’s Horse Heaven Hills I think you’d agree with me. This merlot is absolutely stunning. Intense flavors of ripe blackberries, smooth velvety tannins, dark black in color and mysterious, it clings to the side of the glass like good memories and once swallowed your mouth will beg for another sip. Available locally for $18 but can often be found on sale for around $12. I try to buy this by the case when on sale but it goes so fast that I usually get just a few bottles.
Email pairing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. He’ll try to answer those queries in upcoming columns.
David Devere is a certified specialist of wine. He writes wine articles for the Duluth News Tribune, teaches wine education classes, and leads wine adventures in France. Contact him at email@example.com.